Some of your strongest photos are the ones that go unplanned. When you’re at a show, at the beach, or on a weekend outing at a gallery – the stars align, and you hit the shutter at that decisive moment. Now the moment’s gone, and you’re at home wondering if you need a release to sell your image on EyeEm Market or elsewhere.

Educating yourself on when you need a photo release will help you get exactly what you need the next time you’re out photo adventuring. If you’re licensing photos on EyeEm Market, you’ll want to take an extra note.

A person as the main focus – needs a release. By Visual Thought

Model Releases

There are two kinds of licenses a buyer can purchase in order to use your photo: editorial and commercial. Technically, an editorial license can be purchased without a model release. However, buyers more likely than not purchase commercial license, and commercial licenses require a model release. This means, your photo is much more likely to sell with a model release than without.

So, when do you need a model release?

• If the person is the focus of an image
• And if they are identifiable, which includes physical features, like tattoos

A person with identifiable features, like tattoos – needs a release. By Michael Wendt

Exceptions include:

• If the person is not the main focus
• Silhouettes where features aren’t identifiable
• Photographed from the behind
• People in crowds


A silhouette with no identifiable features – does not need a release. By jose espinola

Property Releases

Interestingly, a property release has to do more than with a physical location. It also has to do with intellectual property, like trademarks and logos and artwork.

When do you need a property release?

• If the below are the main focus of the photo
• And identifiable
• Private property, such as a home or a business
• Intellectual property of brands, trademarks, logos, and artwork

A private home may or may not need a release depending on if it identifiable. By Rachata Teyparsit

Exceptions include:

• Public locations that aren’t trademarked
• Private locations that aren’t the focus, such as in a skyline.
• Artwork that isn’t the focus, such as behind a subject on a wall


Privately owned buildings in a skyline – does not need a release. By
Junic

The EyeEm Market FAQ page has a bevy of photo examples demonstrating when you do or do not need a release. It’s a great resource for the next time you’re out shooting and aren’t sure if you should shoot a couple of extra shots that leave out a billboard ad or if you should ask your friend to sign a quick model release for you.

With that short lesson, you can start selling your photos as soon as – now! A quick sign up to EyeEm Market, and you’re set to select photos already on your profile to license – and of course, upload new images, too. Have more questions or want to know more? Reach out to us.

Header image by @riccardobottaphoto.